1.12 Basic Macarons – Advanced – Baking & Desserts
*NOTICE: This is the last “official” episode of Season 1. I will return with Season 2 on 5th June 2015!*
But aside from that, on to the recipe! Macarons are definitely the most high-maintenance, fiddly, annoying, frustrating piece of baking that I have attempted so far. So obviously, I make them quite a bit! I’m sure there’s a “glutton for punishment” joke to be made there (or vice versa).
Amazing when you get them right, but sometimes it just goes wrong, even if you do everything the same way. I’m not sure if it’s a problem with my recipe, but I have seen several people have the same issue (or worse) with other recipes, so I have chalked it up to a higher power that delights in tormenting would-be Macaronauts.
This recipe will give you the basics on how to make macarons of your own. I will probably revisit macarons from time to time in future posts as I add more flavours to my repertoire (currently I have made about a dozen different types, but there are more lurking around in the back of my mind). This is the easiest place to start.
3 large egg whites
2 cups icing sugar
1 cup almond meal
½ cup caster sugar
2 tbsp water
½ tbsp powdered egg whites (optional)
Don’t be fooled by the fact that there’s only 6 ingredients here. It’s all about how you use them!
Firstly, I would not attempt this recipe without a benchtop/stand mixer (KitchenAid, etc.). I have tried this with a handheld mixer and gotten edible results, but let’s just say that they weren’t winning any beauty pageants. Hand whisking is completely out of the question, unless you’re a robot.
You can try this without the powdered egg whites (as I used to) but they make a noticeable difference when it comes to holding shape.
I don’t have a sugar thermometer, and I can’t be bothered testing the whole “soft ball consistency” part of making sugar syrup, so I really just rely on the colour. Due to this, I’d recommend against adding any colouring to the syrup if possible.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Remember to use icing sugar (a.k.a. superfine or confectioner’s sugar) and not icing mixture (which has an anti-caking agent mixed in). It’s not the same thing and the wrong one will ruin your macarons. I learned that the hard way!
1. Preheat oven to 170°C (335°F), line a few trays with baking paper and set aside. (See note on Step 11 below for lining tips.)
2. Place the caster sugar and water into a pot over high heat and allow to melt together. (DO NOT STIR. You can swirl the pot to mix, but be careful, you don’t want to get melted sugar on yourself! It’s basically sweet Napalm. You can also add liquid/gel flavourings at this point, just try to use something that won’t change the colour too much!)
3. Once the sugar syrup has started bubbling, place the egg whites (including the powdered ones) into the benchtop mixer bowl and gradually turn up to the highest speed. (You don’t want to start at the fastest speed right away as it can ruin your mixer, unless the manual says otherwise.)
4. Once the sugar syrup has changed to an amber honey colour remove it from the heat. (This is the time some people would be checking that their sugar thermometer is at 115°C (or 240°F), or dipping in a spoon to see if the syrup is at “soft ball consistency”, or slaughtering a chicken to appease the Baking Gods. Or whatever. Basically, don’t pay any attention to them.)
5. The egg whites should have formed soft peaks by this time, so slowly drizzle the sugar syrup into the egg whites (while the mixer is still on the highest speed) until all of the syrup has been poured in. (This is the point where you can add in gel colourings if you want to. If you want to use powder colourings, add it with the dry ingredients. Don’t use liquid colourings or you’ll change the consistency and may compromise the end result.)
6. Leave the mixer going for another 10 minutes or until the bowl is cool to the touch, then switch it off and remove the bowl.
7. Onto a sheet of baking paper, sift together the icing sugar and almond meal, ensuring that all lumps are sifted out. (I usually do this right after adding the sugar syrup to the egg whites so I can add it as soon as possible.)
8. Lifting up two edges of the baking paper, funnel the icing sugar and almond meal into the meringue.
9. Fold through gently with a spatula or metal spoon trying to retain as much air as possible. (Not too gentle, but not too rough.)
10. Once the macaron mixture is combined, transfer into piping bags.
11. Pipe the mixture onto the pre-lined trays. (You can buy silicon liners with rings already marked, or you can get a bit crafty and draw your own (make sure that you pipe onto the other side of the baking paper to the side you have drawn on), or you can just judge the sizes yourself as best you can. TIP: Pipe a small blob of the mixture into each corner of the tray and use it to stick down the baking paper.)
12. Using a bit of force, smack the baking tray flat against the bench a few times. (This isn't some weird superstitious tip, it's actually vital to the recipe. This is done to knock out any large air pocket which may ruin the look of your macarons.)
13. Allow the piped macarons to sit for 20-30 minutes or until a skin forms on the surface. (Some gentle prodding with a fingertip is probably the best way to determine this. Very scientific.)
14. Once the skin has formed, bake the macarons for 15-17 minutes.
15. Remove from oven and allow to cool before filling with buttercream, whipped cream, or ganache. (You can also dust them with icing sugar, cocoa, etc. for a little extra flavour. And to disguise any imperfections. Busted!)
Who knows how many this will make? It all depends on how big you pipe them and how many don’t turn out looking the way you want them to. (It happens. Just learn to live with it. Either that or lower your standards.)
A video of this recipe is also available - https://youtu.be/JlpQkK7lmO0.
And that’s the end of Season 1! Season 2 will begin on 5th June 2015. I hope to see you then! Please check in occasionally as I’ll likely be posting some additional entries in the interim.